Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – After 23 years joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam’s economy has connected closely with the bloc’s economy, especially after the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was set up in late 2015, said Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.

According to the minister, since joining the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1996, the total trade value between Vietnam and ASEAN has increased about 7.7 times, from 5.91 billion USD in 1996 to 45.23 billion USD in November 2017. The country’s export value to ASEAN rose by 12.4 times, from 1.6 billion USD in 1996 to 19.9 billion USD.

 As of early July 2018, the total trade value had reached 28.1 billion USD, including 12.2 billion USD in export value and 15.9 billion USD in import value.

Notably, by the end of this year, Vietnam will remove tax for 98 percent of tariff lines with ASEAN countries under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), he added.

Tran Thanh Hai, deputy head of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that entering the ASEAN market, many Vietnamese products have had positive changes and become more competitive.

The birth of the AEC marked a new integration step of ASEAN economies with a goal of building a competitive, dynamic and innovative ASEAN.

However, many Vietnamese enterprises remain vague about the AEC, and find it difficult to address technical barriers to protect domestic production and consumers.

ASEAN countries’ products are now available in the Vietnamese market, which is a challenge for domestic businesses with low competitiveness.

Therefore, it is important for domestic enterprises to understand both opportunities and challenges brought by the AEC, Hai stressed.-VNA